The Indian Ocean Slave Trade Project

Mapping Slave Journeys and Experiences in the Indian Ocean

Welcome to the Indian Ocean Slave Trade Project

This project aims to provide both scholars and the public with accessible and easily navigable information on the Indian Ocean slave trade during the 19th and 20th centuries. Like the Atlantic slave trade, millions of Africans and other peoples were abducted and transported across the Indian Ocean to work as slaves in foreign lands. In contrast to the Atlantic slave trade, however, which boasts an extensive scholarly literature and a greater public awareness, few publicly available resources are devoted to the study of the Indian Ocean slave trade. In order to increase awareness of the legacy of the Indian Ocean slave trade and to facilitate further study, this site presents multiple resources.

As you can see from the heat map below, our data and project currently emphasizes the East African slave trade to the Persian Gulf. However, this is an ongoing project with much more to explore, and thus our data (and maps) will continue to be expanded and revised. In the near future, we intend to expand the project to include slave routes and experiences in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, the Red Sea, Egypt, Sudan, and from East Africa to the Atlantic world.

Under each of the above tabs, you will find:

  • About the Project: A more thorough discussion on the aims of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade Project, the archives and sources used in the project, and the limits of and sliences embedded in such sources. You will also find more information on the contributors of this project.
  • Types of Slavery: Discussion on of the types of slavery that took place in the Indian Ocean slave trade.
  • Experiences of Slavery: Examples and analyses of slaves’ individual and collective experiences.
  • Slaves' Journey: Interactive maps tracing both individual and collective slave routes.
  • Slavery in the Indian Ocean: An overview of British rule in the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean slave trade, and the current debates in the historiography of slavery in the Indian Ocean.
  • Resources: A list of important resources on the Indian Ocean slave trade including other mapping projects doing similar work as this one.

In providing the above information, we hope that this project will complement similar mapping projects and publicly available resources on the routes and experiences of the Atlantic slave trade and to provide both scholars and the public with a better understanding of slavery as a global phenomenon and its eventual abolition.